Celebrating Sunderland’s patron saint

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Artist Elaine Porter is pictured with her partner Richard Gordon as they put the finishing touches to a 3-D light sculpture inspired by some of St Peter's stained glass windows.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Artist Elaine Porter is pictured with her partner Richard Gordon as they put the finishing touches to a 3-D light sculpture inspired by some of St Peter's stained glass windows.

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HISTORY was the word as part of celebrations for Sunderland’s patron saint.

Revellers indulged in learning the origins of the city which were celebrated during the feast of Benedict Biscop this weekend.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Artist Elaine Porter is pictured with her partner Richard Gordon as they put the finishing touches to a 3-D light sculpture inspired by some of St Peter's stained glass windows.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Artist Elaine Porter is pictured with her partner Richard Gordon as they put the finishing touches to a 3-D light sculpture inspired by some of St Peter's stained glass windows.

Events organised in partnership with the city council delved into Wearside’s rich history of glass making, and the work done by Biscop when he established Monkwearmouth Priory at St. Peter’s Church.

“It was not just the feast day that was celebrated, but in so many ways the origins of Sunderland itself,” said Tom Gibson, the reverend at St Peter’s.

“Benedict Biscop established a learned monastery at Monkwearmouth that produced beautiful books and educated people.

“We want to celebrate the rich history right here in Sunderland.”

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Picture having a go at stone carving is Gyuzel Gadelshina with stone carver Jonny Stoker.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Picture having a go at stone carving is Gyuzel Gadelshina with stone carver Jonny Stoker.

The feast day was celebrated with a festival that brought together the work of various artists and musicians, in different locations.

Family activities at Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens gave children the chance to learn about 7th century manuscripts and to have a go at calligraphy.

Activities also included learning about what life was like in a 7th century monastery.

Durham and Newcastle Bell Ringers’ Association held an annual celebration at St Peter’s Church, and the Benedict Biscop Gregorian Choir finished off the celebrations on Sunday night with a demonstration and workshop.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Picture having a go at stone carving is Gyuzel Gadelshina with stone carver Jonny Stoker.

St Peter's Church in Monkwearmouth has been celebrating the Feast of St Benedict Biscop. Picture having a go at stone carving is Gyuzel Gadelshina with stone carver Jonny Stoker.

Artist Elaine Porter gave glass staining and stone carving demonstrations at St Peter’s to recapture the work done by Biscop in building the church.

The saint, who taught Bede at the monastery at St Peter’s, brought stonemasons and glaziers from Rome in 674AD to build the church and priory.

It was the first church to be built of stone in the UK, and the glass windows – commonly believed to be the first in a church in the UK – were a novelty when they were fitted in the 7th century.

Reverend Gibson said: “If we were anywhere else in the world, such as Spain or Italy this feast day would be a massive celebration continued on from Christmas.

“So when we become a World Heritage Site – which I truly believe we will – all eyes will be upon us and we must show what we have and celebrate it.

“My hope is that in the future all faiths can join together to celebrate this feast in our city, because Biscop was not just a Church of England saint.

“St Benet’s Church, Monkwearmouth, is a Catholic church named after Benedict Biscop, just in a different spelling, and it is a feast for the city.”

St. Benet’s (Benedict) Church stands on ground that once belonged to St Peter’s monastery, established by the saint in 675AD.

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull